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4 Steps to Stop Feelings of Inadequacy

"Hi Allicia, We would be honored to have you as a guest on our podcast. Your story can offer invaluable inspiration to our listeners, and we believe your journey will make a profound impact."

I was humbled and surprised to have been invited to speak on a podcast of such high caliber just days after putting myself out to be a guest! I immediately responded and in no time, a date was set for the recording. I knew I needed to start speaking on podcasts, but already? I was so impressed by the host, Reverend Jocelyn Jones and her mission with Faith on the Journey, but felt so inadequate! Excited butterflies quickly sank in my stomach as if they were made of cement.

“That’s less than a week away.” a voice all too familiar spoke matter of factly in my mind. “There’s no way you’ll be ready by then. And you look terrible.”

“The Critic" has been a resident in my head for as long as I can remember. The Critic is an ultimate bully who likes to put me in my place and remind me of my flaws. Where she might think she’s doing it out of protection and preservation, listening to her often sends me spiraling down a rabbit hole of worthlessness to a state of stagnancy. I know I’m not alone in this.

Ignoring The Critic doesn’t usually work for me because what she says is generally based on an element of truth.

Some of her favorite lines lately have been:

“You’re too old, it’s too late to get started. You’re going to look foolish!”

“You really should know how to do this by now.”

“You’ve wasted so much time!”

“This is never going to work!”

“You’ve really let yourself go! You looked great and still could if you had self control!”

And so on and so on.

In a world where it’s nearly impossible not to compare ourselves to others, feeling inadequate can be instinctual. Even when things are going well it can be hard to turn a deaf ear to The Critic’s jabs.

A primary example is how I spent a lot of energy in my twenties, thirties and half of my forties working toward one of my fondest dreams; becoming someone’s Mrs. Right. The Critic told me since I hadn’t yet found my Mr. there was something inherently wrong with me. And then when I did she harped on occasional dirty baseboards, my culinary shortcomings, makeupless days to the “happiness weight” I didn’t know was a thing until it hit hard 4 months into wedded bliss.

And I wasn’t just feeling inadequate as a wife. I started to question my abilities in other aspects of my life, including being a good enough friend, sister, daughter and continuing on with my passion to spread messages of Unlikely Courage through writing and speaking. The good news is, where it can be easy to let The Critic call the shots, it’s just as easy to kick her out of the driver’s seat.

Four Favorite Tools to Combat Feelings of Inadequacy:

1-Turn a deaf ear and move forward

Which is what I did when I accepted my first podcast interview as The Critic nipped at my heels every step along the way. “This is going to be a trainwreck!” she spat “You need good lighting, a good camera and, honestly, people will be able to tell that you don’t know what you’re doing.”

I admit, technology isn’t my strongest suit and the past 3.5 years since engagement, marriage and moving cross country temporarily derailed me from lessons Educating Shanny taught me about becoming a YouTuber and how to look good on camera. I tried to pick up where Shanny and I left off post wedding, but some things have changed..a lot and I had to relearn new basics required to stream video.

Google is a Godsend! I was committed to my week’s deadline and, yes, The Critic was right about me needing the right equipment, but with my past experience it took me just a few minutes, some advice from my co author and marketing advisor, and several orders on Amazon to get my new equipment and little podcast space set up. Doubts, fears and feelings of inadequacy may have been somewhat quieted but they didn’t stop.

2- Better Done Than Perfect

My friend and award winning podcaster, Jen Amos told me that the only way to find my voice was to use it. My amazing coauthor, Bridget Cook-Burch teaches what Rebecca Wall taught her, “better done than perfect”. Both are soft but bold calls to action. I believe so many of us are inspired to use our voices to share our experiences and help others but oftentimes the inspiration is too intimidating. It doesn’t have to be.

As a perfectionist, I’ve hesitated and held back on certain things I felt moved to do because The Critic said they weren’t good enough. Because they weren’t perfect, they didn’t make it to the “done” stage. By practicing using my voice and letting things be done even though they definitely are not perfect, I’ve been able to overcome feelings of inadequacy, accomplish what I set out to do and continue to grow. Better Done Than Perfect has become one of my favorite go-to mantras!

3- Combat The Critic’s negativity with logic and what’s really true

The Critic is never satisfied and rarely shuts up. Through help from therapists, mentors, books and podcasts, I’ve learned to discern between motivation to become better and messages from The Critic. Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner Daisy Smith taught me to ask “is that true?” when a negative or fearful thought came to mind. That simple question and looking at situations logically have helped me see that I was almost always in a better situation and more capable than I instinctually thought, that what's really true, logically, is pretty dang good or at the very least, survivable and doable.

4-Take that first scary leap in order to fly-and see it’s really not that scary

October 5, 2023 I sat in front of my makeshift podcast “studio” in my home office after a series of obstacles. I fidgeted with my new Logitech Pro C922 that had teetered to a skiwampus angle and the Logitech Ultraglow light to bring more color to my face. I smirked at my likeness on the screen and wished I could have the camera at a more “neck pull” friendly angle, but it was T-5 minutes and, well,showtime!

Jocelyn’s beautiful face suddenly popped on my computer and something about her warm smile started to calm my nerves. We spoke for a few minutes, she coached me through what to expect on her show, asked what I’d like to share and hit the record button. I looked into my own eyes and smiled, remembering why I was there, what I was sharing and knowing I had an important message others really needed to hear. I’m not going to lie, it was scary and uncomfortable. I didn’t like how my face looked that close to the screen and thought “this is me. I’ve gained a few pounds and aged a little and it shows but it’s ok.” I was calm and I accepted myself. At that moment being forced to literally stare myself in the face for nearly an hour, The Critic was nothing but muffled background noise. Talk about a triumph!

On November 13, my podcast aired. On the 15th, the video was up. I listened to the playback and watched the video. I shared it with family, friends and social media. I took that first scary leap that, thanks to a kind and extremely skilled host and a little Unlikely Courage, was really not that scary. My performance wasn’t perfect, but it was done well. And I didn’t feel the least bit inadequate!

The tools I used with my first podcast episode can be applied in almost any situation where it’s easy to feel inadequate. Silence The Critic. Turn a deaf ear and move forward to create something that is better done than perfect. See what’s really true and find out that what you’re doing or wanting to do really isn’t that scary! Then repeat. As I say in my YouTube videos, let your fears inspire you to be brave and live!

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